A century of excellence

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The beginning of the Texas A&M architecture program's sixth decade marked the transformation of the Department of Architecture to the Division of Architecture. Though still housed in the College of Engineering, the curriculum now encompassed landscape architecture, which migrated from the agriculture division with Professor Fred Klatt, Jr. in 1957. A year later, the Master of Landscape Architecture program was established.

Reagan W. George, Class of 1958, recalled those heady post-war days when Professor Edward Romieniec's "T-Bird with the porthole" was the envy of every student:

"We drooled and talked big about what kind of car we would have when we were rich. We never touched it, we would only get as close as possible - but so that no breath would fog it. It was there, behind the Academic Building parked in the drive right next to the building. On display so we all saw it as we entered the building and as we returned from the mess hall in the evening. It was tempting. How we ignored the opportunity to pull a prank, I'll never know."

On a more serious note, Reagan wrote in his college-days essay, "These Things I Remember":

"The Profs - Jack Lemmon, Dik Voorman, Ted Holloman, Bob Anderson and Ed Romieniec. The leading cast - but strongly supported by Melvin Rotsch, Joe Donaldson, and Jack Godwin. Note this collection of mostly wizards! It was what every architecture student in America wished for. They just didn't know it."

Heading the division of architecture in this, the sixth decade were:

Toward the end of the decade, after almost 50 years, the architecture program moved from its headquarters in the Academic Building, into new digs - what is today known as Buildings B and C of the Langford Architecture Center.

It was also during this 10-year stretch from 1955 to 1965, that the architecture program at Texas A&M really gelled - reaching a "critical mass" later realized by the extraordinary professional accomplishments of students from that era.

Raymond Gomez, Class of 1964


But it all came together in the decade of 1966 to 1975. Just a few years prior, in 1963, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas became Texas A&M University and women were officially admitted - on a limited basis. By 1971, A&M caught up with the feminist movement, and women gained equal footing with the men.

1969 was a landmark year. The Architecture Division broke ranks with Engineering and the College of Architecture and Environmental Design was formed. This move precipitated a great deal of change and overseeing it all was the first dean, Edward J. Romieniec.

Under Romieniec's able stewardship, the college became home to five departments:

Within these departments, seven degrees were offered:

Edward J. Romieniec

Romieniec is frequently mentioned - often fondly and always respectfully - time and again in the reminiscences of former students and faculty. His legacy remains very much alive in today's design studios and course curricula.

"Ed Romieniec's inspiration and career-long drive to demolish the formal barriers between academia and practice was one of his more beneficial contributions to architectural education," wrote Weston Harper, who served as head of the Department of Architecture from 1969 -1973.

In 1985, Romieniec received the Texas Society of Architects' Award for Excellence in Architectural Education - the first such award to be presented and an award that today bears his name. One might say Romieniec was the reason the award was created.

He served as a member of the A&M faculty from 1956 until 1960, and again from 1963 until his retirement in 1988. Prior being named dean in 1968, he served as head of the Division of Architecture. In 1967, Romieniec was commissioned by the governor to study the needs and patterns of architectural education in Texas. The results of his study and his recommendations were published in 1990 and became the basis for significant changes in architectural education throughout the state. He died in 1996, at the age of 75.

"Ed staffed the early college faculty by bringing in young practitioners and arranging for them to work on an advanced degree while they were teaching the 'working' dimensions of architecture,"recalled Harper, the former department head. "I was one of them," he added.

"Ed was indeed a riddle wrapped in an enigma," recalled George J. Mann, a former Romieniec student who currently serves as the Ronald L. Skaggs Endowed Professor of Health Facilities Design at Texas A&M. "He was generous, irreverent, visionary, intuitive and perceptive. He had a keen sense of design, was irascible, and he kept us all off of balance most of the time."

"He also gave people a second chance," Mann continued. "He treated us like unique and special individuals. He did not push me to be someone else. He did push me to become the person I could be."

During this period of dramatic transformation at Texas A&M, the country was experiencing a heightened social consciousness. For some students, that meant involvement in the community beyond the classroom and studio - that "other education," which has become an integral part of the Texas A&M student experience.

Marvin Daniels, Class of 1971


The transformation that began in the college's seventh decade continued in the eighth, as did the building program. In 1977, Langford Building A was constructed for the princely sum of $7 million. The building was designed by former student Jack R. Yardley, Class of 1958, and was built by HKS in Dallas - a firm that was founded by Harwood K. Smith, Class of 1935 and Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Architecture.

The growth in the college's academic programs continued.

In addition to Dr. Raymond Reed, who held the dean's post until 1979, his successor, Charles Hix, guided the college and its rapidly evolving programs through 1985.

Throughout this transformative period, landscape architecture student George Seagrave '80, noted that the college managed to maintain a personal feel that encouraged a new generation to appreciate the special qualities of a Texas A&M education.

George Seagrave, Class of 1980


The founder of A&M's architectural education program, Dr. Fredrick Giesecke, understood the value of research. He passed away, after all, in the middle of an experiment. If Giesecke planted the research seed in A&M's fledgling architecture program, over the decades countless others, like Ernest Langford, Bill Caudill and Edward Romieniec, nurtured it.

However, the quest for new knowledge at the College of Architecture reached fruition in its ninth decade - 1985-1995 - with burgeoning emphasis on graduate programs and research. Though often remembered as a contentious period, this decade laid the groundwork for a college where new knowledge could be created, and most importantly, translated into the classroom, the studio and professional practice.

J. Thomas Regan, who served as dean of the college from 1998 - 2008, said, "one of the organizing principles of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University is the influence of research on teaching."

Here at the dawn of a new millennium, design schools that emphasize research are rare. And though the college suffered some growing pains in the 80s and 90s, the processes did strengthen its reputation as a research center.

Here are just a few of the fruits harvested from that effort:

College-wide research units, such as these, continue to significantly influence the professions and industries of the built and virtual environment, as well as the college, through the discovery and application of new knowledge.

The creation of the Visualization Laboratory in 1988 and the M.S. Visualization Science program a year later was perhaps one of the more significant developments of this decade. The lab and program were established in response to clear indications that digital visualization was going to play a highly important role in digital communication.

The M.S. Viz program prepares students for a range of long-term careers in visualization by helping them develop the focused expertise and broad foundational knowledge needed in this rapidly developing field. The program's core curriculum offers a basic grasp of the artistic, scientific, cognitive, and technical foundations of the discipline. Beyond this broad training, the program requires students to develop a strong focus area of advanced expertise, and to complete a research thesis in this focus area.

M.S. Viz graduates have achieved success as creative directors, computer animators, university professors, software designers and today populate many of Hollywood's leading special effects and animation studios such as Pixar, Industrial Light and Magic, Lucas Arts and Dreamworks.

Additionally in that decade:

Navigating the college through yet another transformative decade were deans:

Tim McLaughlin, Class of 1994


Throughout the next decade, the College of Architecture continued to hone its teaching, research and service mission with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary work and professional collaboration with industry partners.

Bringing direction to the college at then dawn of a new millennium were and are deans:

Under the decade-long leadership of Dean J. Thomas Regan, the college established innovative teaching programs, expanded virtually every teaching, research and outreach outcome measure and more than tripled its endowment.

A strong advocate of interdisciplinary collaboration in research and education, Regan is responsible for significantly expanding the college's global influence. He went far to strengthen the college's commitment to using international study and research as a catalyst for global collaboration in both education and professional practice.

In 2008, at the end of his deanship, Regan was cited as one of the nation's "25 Most Admired Educators" in a nationwide survey of leading design practitioners and firm presidents conducted by the DesignIntelligence journal.

A highlight of this decade was the creation of the Built Environment Teaching and Research Facility, or "Architecture Ranch," a facility erected on a 16-acre site at the Texas A&M Riverside Campus. The multi-use structure provides student and faculty with a testing ground for college research initiative and large-scale studio projects. In 2007, the Ranch provided the staging ground for Texas A&M's award-winning entry in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition.

The last great achievement under Regan's leadership was the creation in the college of the Department of Visualization in 2008, which includes the M.S. Visualization program formerly housed in the Department of Architecture, as well as a new undergraduate degree in visualization.

Today the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University is one of the premier design research institutions in the world. The college strives to remain at the forefront of research, teaching, professional education, and outreach associated with built and virtual environments. Its rich and diverse research portfolio includes projects conducted in and across its departments through its multiple research centers and in collaboration with other colleges and centers in the university.

For the next decade, the college has identified focus areas in healthy environments, sustainability, and visualization. It remains committed to sustaining disciplinary integrity among its departments, fostering established and new teaching, professional and research programs, and encouraging continued collaboration within the college, across the university, and with government and industry.

Together the college's 120 faculty members, 40 staff members,400 graduate students and 1,500 undergraduate students create an energetic environment for academic and professional success.

The college offers a comprehensive catalog of prominently ranked graduate and undergraduate programs in the design, planning, construction, land development and visualization professions.

The College of Architecture administers five undergraduate and ten graduate degree programs - each fully accredited at the highest possible level - through the departments of Architecture, Construction Science, Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning, and Visualization (established in 2008). Offerings include four professional design and planning degrees, as well as doctorate programs in architecture and urban and regional planning. It also houses all of Texas A&M University programs in the visual arts.

Additionally the college sustains five formally organized research centers and laboratories dedicated to improving the knowledge base of the professions it serves and supporting five graduate certification programs.

The college is distinctive in that it offers a truly interdisciplinary curriculum, recognizing that no single professional track or narrow specialization can adequately prepare tomorrow's building and planning professionals. Because the college houses all of the built environment disciplines, it is uniquely suited for interdisciplinary collaboration.

An organizing principle of the college is the influence of research on teaching. Its rich and diverse research portfolio includes projects conducted in and across its departments through its multiple research centers and in collaboration with other colleges and centers in the university.

The college sustains five formally organized research centers dedicated to improving the knowledge base of the professions it serves and supporting six graduate certification programs - Sustainable Urbanism, Environmental Hazard Management, Facility Management, Health Systems and Design, Transportation Planning and Historic Preservation.

Though quite diverse, the disciplines within the college have one predominant commonality - the transformation of the human environment. Because the creativity and sensitivity with which each discipline is practiced has a profound influence on the quality of life in society, the college challenges students to weave aesthetics, safety, function, financial feasibility, sustainability and environmental stewardship into the creative process.

The College of Architecture is part of a university community that is widely known for its leadership in teaching, research and outreach and for instilling in its students the core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service.

At the College of Architecture, faculty work to ensure that students are well prepared by course work that includes fundamentals as well as the more innovative concepts, spawned by research and scholarly debate.

The college also belongs to and serves the professional communities of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, land development, construction science, and visualization sciences. It is dedicated to generating significant knowledge and insight and producing a long line of qualified aspirants for the jobs of tomorrow - leaders of character dedicated to serving the greater good.

The college is committed to sustaining disciplinary integrity among its departments, fostering established and new teaching, professional and research programs, and encouraging continued collaboration within the college, across the university, and with government and industry. Its faculty and staff share a united vision of significantly influencing the state of the art in the design, planning, and construction of built and virtual environments in a multi-disciplinary environment rich in resources.

In spring 2006, the College of Architecture's 100th class received their degrees at Texas A&M commencement ceremonies. Evident in the college's Class of 2006 was a century of leadership and commitment to excellence that is their legacy and the hallmark of the College of Architecture programs. Like their predecessors, the students stood proudly on the shoulders of giants, destined to become leaders of character with the education, experience and desire to serve the greater good.

Natalie Franz, Class of 2006

100 year anniversary commemorative video.